UPEI faculty of medicine will improve chances for Islanders to pursue medical careers

·4 min read
Aly Inman, left, and Emmanuel Egwuatu aspire to get into medical school. UPEI will open a faculty of medicine in 2023 in conjunction with Memorial University of Newfoundland. (Submitted - image credit)
Aly Inman, left, and Emmanuel Egwuatu aspire to get into medical school. UPEI will open a faculty of medicine in 2023 in conjunction with Memorial University of Newfoundland. (Submitted - image credit)

For some Prince Edward Island graduates with a science degree, the chance to study medicine at UPEI provides a more accessible option in Atlantic Canada.

Last week, UPEI announced a partnership with Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador to open a faculty of medicine for 20 Island residents, including an Indigenous Islander, beginning in September 2023.

There are only 10 seats currently available for Islanders to study medicine at two Atlantic universities.

"Having these 20 seats will give us double the opportunities to get into medical school," said Islander Aly Inman, who completed a bachelor of psychology at UPEI and a master of applied health services research at Memorial.

"It'll give us the opportunity to study on our island, which will give us more opportunities to connect within our own health-care system and be able to grow our roots down to become practitioners here eventually in the future."

Tracy Lightfood/CBC
Tracy Lightfood/CBC

Few seats to study medicine

Inman has always wanted to study medicine. He said he's spent the last two years applying for seats to medical programs at Memorial and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, but is on a waiting list.

"Due to the limited amount of seats, there tends to be a number of people wait-listed year after year."

Both he and his sister want to study medicine. He's glad there's an easier route for her to pursue the degree.

"I've been on this journey trying to get into med school for a couple of years now, and she's starting her journey now," he said.

"This, hopefully, will help her, and give her an opportunity to not have to wait as long to get into the career she wants to do."

Their mother is a registered nurse, Inman said. His passion for medical science grew from having great role models in health care.

"I've just had some experiences with the health care system and learned how important it's been to have a great physician who is there for you and you can confide in them and feel comfortable sharing your stories with them, and have somebody to lean on to be able to help you navigate the health-care system." - Aly Inman

"Sometimes, these are in times when you're very vulnerable and experiencing great difficulties and I wanted to be able to do that for other people as I had great role models for physicians growing up."

Although the new faculty only provides a chance for Island residents, there are international students and graduates in P.E.I. who would prefer to study medicine in the province.

Nigeria's Emmanuel Egwuatu is one of them. He graduated from UPEI this year with a biology degree.

He said he's applied to become a permanent resident in P.E.I., and Canada, and hopes to get a seat to study medicine at UPEI. Studying medicine has always been the end goal of his post-secondary education.

"The Island is a nice place to stay and you feel more connected to the people than other places in Canada," he said.

"I think people studying medicine here would really want to practice on the Island than in other places."

Egwuatu said he's OK with the faculty being only available for Island residents, including an Indigenous person. He hopes there will be seats for international students after the pilot year.

Faculty will provide doctors for P.E.I.

The faculty will help alleviate the doctor shortage on P.E.I., he said. He said most people tend to pursue careers in the place where they studied.

"I was planning on going outside the province to study medicine, and the chances are where I study medicine is where I am going to work for at least maybe two or more years," he said.

"I think that's the same mindset with every other person."

Inman agrees. Having a medicine faculty will provide doctors for underserved areas, he said.

"It's going to help us to provide more physicians to rural areas in P.E.I. where there are vacancies, and I think it's just going to recruit more and retain more physicians for P.E.I."

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